But Canada's position on the issue was sharply criticized by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who suggested the world should be contributing funds to help Europe and defiantly insisted that the continent would not take "lessons" from others about how to run an economy.
The tense standoff — which emerged in separate news conferences about an hour apart — occurred as leaders of the G20 nations began a two-day summit here dominated by the continuing economic crisis in Europe.
The leaders of the world's strongest economies met in the wake of a tense election campaign in Greece, won by the pro-bailout conservative New Democracy party — an outcome that has gone some way to reassuring the rest of Europe that the country will move forward to negotiate the terms of a bailout package and ultimately stay in the euro currency.
"We are obviously very pleased that the Greek people have given a clear mandate to remain in the eurozone and to fulfil the commitments they have made within the eurozone," Harper told journalists.
"We think that's a very positive development going forward."
Nonetheless, he said the 17-nation eurozone still has "significant" problems.
"The various debt crises, the combination of banking and sovereign debt crises, remain very severe."
At the oceanside gathering, Harper is under pressure to pledge Canadian assistance to a $430-billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package that would help troubled economies in Europe.
But Canada and the United States are digging in their heels and saying no to the request from the IMF — arguing Europe is a rich continent and it needs to put a substantive game plan in place to fix its debt crisis.
Harper said the continent's debt problems are "clearly within the means of European countries to deal with.
"What European countries need to do, and what we will be looking to see, are clear commitments that they are prepared to take all of the necessary actions that are within their capacity to deal with these problems.
"And to create the structural changes necessary to create a genuine financial union in Europe that can deal with these problems on an ongoing basis."
Barroso reacted strongly to Harper's contention that Europe has the financial firepower to deal with its own crisis.
He said Europe is already the biggest contributor to the IMF for its programs — "bigger than the United States, certainly much, much, much bigger than Canada."
Even in this crisis, he said, Europe is contributing the largest share to the IMF rescue fund. He suggested that it would be wise for nations elsewhere to do likewise because it ultimately is in their own economic self-interest.
In a pointed reminder, he noted that Canada is trying to complete a free-trade agreement with Europe.
"Why? Because all the other parts of the world look at Europe as a source of possible growth for them. And, in fact, they also have an interest. The sooner the situation is stabilized in Europe, the better for them.
"So that's why my position and the position of the European Union has been to say, let's work co-operatively for this. Let's work together."
Barroso lashed back at those who would lecture Europe, saying that in fact the global economic crisis of 2008 began in North American due to some "unorthodox" practices by the financial sector.
In recent months, Harper and others have called on Europe to stop dragging its heels and put in place a comprehensive plan of action more quickly.
Barroso chafed at such criticism, suggesting it's not so easy, and noting that while not all G20 nations are democracies, all of the European countries are run by democratic politicians who seek consensus.
"Sometimes this means taking more time," he said.
"But, frankly, we are not coming here to receive lessons in terms of democracy and in terms of how to run an economy because the European Union has a model that we may be very proud of. We are not complacent about the difficulties.
"We are extremely open. I wish that all our partners were so open about their own difficulties. We are extremely open and we are engaging our partners but we are certainly not coming here to receive lessons from nobody."
At the summit, Harper is urging other nations to adopt two principles: fiscal discipline to reduce deficits, and innovative policies to create economic growth.
As part of that latter priority, Harper has touted Canada's trade agenda as a critical objective. He has noted that his government has struck deals with many nations, is in talks with the EU and India, and is hoping to be invited to the negotiating table for a massive new trading bloc — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is currently an Asia-Pacific free-trade proposal being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
In addition to Canada, two other major countries — Japan and Mexico — have signalled they want in on the talks.
That can't happen unless they are invited by the other nine nations to join, and some have resisted Canada's participation unless it first agrees to abandon its supply management system that protects dairy and poultry farmers — a concession that Harper has refused to make just to get to the negotiating table.
In recent days, there have been indications that progress had been made and that Harper was on the verge of announcing — possibly at the end of the G20 summit — that Canada has been given the green light to enter TPP negotiations.
On Monday, Mexico announced that it had received that status and will join the talks.
At his news conference, Harper avoided answering a direct question on whether Canada will soon enter the TPP negotiations.
"An important part of our agenda for growth is an ambitious trade agenda," he said.
"We're delighted that Americans and others have indicated an interest in seeing Canada join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I think for now I'll just leave it at that."
Europe snaps back at Harper over lecture on debt crisis